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GBTA Study: Covid-19 to Dent Business Travel Forecasts

The coronavirus epidemic may very well cost the business travel industry some 559.7 billion dollars annually, or 37 percent of its total 2020 forecasted global spend, a Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) study released this week reveals.

According to a flash poll conducted on February 25 by GBTA on 401 member  companies, Covid-19 can potentially impact the global business travel industry by 46.6 billion euros each month.  

Among the report’s key findings is the coronavirus impact on business meetings and events with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of GBTA companies claiming they have canceled at least a “few” meetings or events. While one-fifth (18 percent) said they canceled “many” events and 25 percent said they canceled “some” meetings or events.

With regard to the duration of these disruptions, respondents expressed considerable doubt with more than half (54 percent) claiming uncertainty over when they expect travel to resume. About one-third (31 percent) said they foresee travel resuming in the next three months, with 14 percent expecting the delays to last up to half a year.

Another important study finding identifies the impact of cancellations and postponements on company revenues. A majority of GBTA’s supplier companies said Covid-19 has had a “significant” (24 percent) or “moderate” (31 percent) impact on their company’s revenues, with airlines and hospitality providers among the most affected.

“It is clear that the coronavirus is having a significant – and potentially very costly – effect on our members, their companies and on the overall business travel industry,” said Scott Solombrino, CEO GBTA and executive director.

“It is fundamentally affecting the way many companies are now doing business. If this turns into a global pandemic, the industry may well lose billions of dollars – an impact that will have negative ramifications for the entire global economy,” he added.

Highly affected was business travel to Asia with 95 percent of those surveyed saying their companies canceled or suspended “most” or “all” business trips to China.

A majority reported having taken similar measures for events in Hong Kong (73 percent), Taiwan (54 percent), and other Asian Pacific countries (45 percent).

In the same way, 23 percent said their company had canceled or suspended at least some trips to European countries such as Italy, Germany and France with a mere 8 percent doing the same for “most” or “all” of their trips to Europe.

GBTA survey participants also said they went ahead and changed their travel policies with 43 percent reporting their company instituted new trip approval procedures and 51 percent modifying travel safety and security features for their travelers.

A leading business travel and meetings trade organization based in Washington DC, GBTA represents more than 9,000 members who manage over 345 billion dollars of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually in six continents.

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